Hello Darlings! I hope this post finds everyone having a good or better than good week. I myself haven’t had the best week at all. In fact, it’s been a pretty rough one. I don’t want my blog to become a place where I discuss personal issues, but this one seems worth discussing as I know there are many people who suffer from this as well and I don’t want anyone to feel alone. Over the last year, I have been dealing with chronic issues stemming from TMJ, and possibly from the scoliosis that I have had (I believe) most of my life. So why is this important on my blog? Why would anyone care to hear about my day-to-day pain and dealing with it? Because, according to statistics, most sufferers of TMJ are women primarily in their ‘childbearing years’. That would obviously be me, and probably a lot of my readers as well. Plus, my TMJ pain is sometimes so bad that I don’t really care about feeling pretty or getting dressed up for anything. So I want to talk about what it’s like to have this issue, and how I maintain my day to day while dealing with it, how I feel good even when I don’t, and of course..what I’m doing to treat it. I’m going to also show you guys this gorgeous outfit from Fortunate One, because hopefully it’ll help brighten up my day as well as yours.

TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is a very common problem, with more than 3 million cases per year in the US alone. The disorder affects the joint, which connects the lower jaw to the skull. Essentially, it is a dysfunction of the joint which allows your lower jaw to open, close, move freely, talk, chew gum, anything. A little over a year ago, my dentist told me that I clench my teeth when I sleep; a bad habit probably caused by stress, and he made me a custom nightguard that I wear when I sleep every night. Mid 2016, I started experiencing popping, clicking sounds and feelings in my jaw, but mostly ignored it. I figured it’s probably just normal; life. Then, in November/December 2016, it started to become extremely painful, and my jaw felt locked all of the time. To eat, to talk, mostly everything was painful. I was also dealing with chronic headaches. I’d wake up nearly every morning with one, and it wouldn’t dissipate until I fell asleep. I started seeing a neurologist who recommended dietary changes first, like cutting out caffeine. So I tried that for a month, with little results. We did an MRI, nothing bad there. Then, he advised that due to my scoliosis that I was diagnosed with at age 11, I could probably benefit from seeing a physical therapist. Scoliosis causes a natural imbalance in your body, and so your body can naturally find ways to compensate for the imbalance without you realizing it, and it can manifest in different issues.  So, I made my appointment, and in between that, I saw a dentist who specializes in TMJ.

The dentist recommended a treatment plan, but it is super expensive and may or may not be effective, so I declined it for now. The main objective is to correct how my lower jaw opens and closes, and my physical therapist believes it could be more effective to focus on the muscles that create those actions instead of fixing the jaw itself. She worked with me using dry needling therapy, which targets trigger points. The treatment really helped my neck muscles start to relax and a lot of my jaw pain and headaches started to dissipate. My scoliosis could be causing muscular compensation due to the curve in my spine, and all in all, could be a root of the TMJ issues.

Once my physical therapy sessions came to an end, I started seeing a massage therapist. And I’m still seeing the same one. She is amazing, and really works to correct the issues with my muscular compensation in my body rather than just helping me immediately feel better. So for a while I was starting to feel so much better, and was so thankful. Then last weekend rolls around, and my neck is in so much pain I can barely turn my head. My jaw is locked up again and I don’t want to eat anything that isn’t soup or a smoothie. This entire week has been such a struggle for me to complete work, do anything besides sit in my computer chair because it’s the most comfortable place. Drawing, painting, and sewing (the work I do besides my blog), could be a contributing factor to these issues. Basically being hunched over a table sewing or drawing all day has it’s setbacks, or at least does for me.

I want you guys to know, I am not just trying to sit here and complain. I want to educate you about what I’ve been going through, because it is a common problem and not talked about enough, and I want to share with you what I’m doing to feel better.To want to get up, get dressed, do my makeup and feel awesome. And because I’m still on my journey of figuring out the cause and root of my issues, and what works for treatment, I believe it’s worth documenting here. I still love feeling pretty and feeling my best. That is important to me, because fashion is a huge part of my life. I ordered this outfit from Fortunate One a while back, because it immediately caught my eye and is just so adorable. The lace is so pretty and the pattern makes me think of sweet little birds flying free.

Fortunate One Inka Top and Inka Skirt UrbanOG denim boots Fortunate One Inka Top Inka Skirt UrbanOG Denim Boots Fortunate One Inka Top Inka Skirt UrbanOG Denim Thigh High Boots

I absolutely love these boots from UrbanOG as well. Who knew denim thigh high boots would be a thing? They’re super comfortable, and the shorter height of the heel doesn’t seem to bother my back, which is always a concern for me when wearing heels. If you have scoliosis already, putting yourself in super high heels can put a lot of strain on your back, so I love when I find a mid height heel that still makes me feel glamorous! Plus, these look a little like the boots my character in Final Fantasy online wears, and so I love that. I love playing video games, and it’s been an easy distraction for when I’m not feeling good as well.

When I wake up and my TMJ is acting a fool, sometimes it’s nice to just put on something pretty and feel good about myself. I think it can be a real self esteem booster to someone in pain (physical or emotional) to wear an outfit that makes them feel good about themselves. Or to fix their hair, or put on makeup. Anything, whatever makes you feel good. Clothes have always made me feel good. So a pretty outfit that makes me feel like a princess is often exactly what I need when I’m down or feeling rough. This little outfit from Fortunate One definitely makes me feel that way! I feel like a fairy, it’s just cute and frilly. I like the sort of bohemian feel it has as well with the lace and shape of the sleeves. It was drizzling outside the day I shot these photos, so I had my umbrella, but it just looks so good with this outfit anyway! A parasol style umbrella is literally everything to me. I have a beautiful painted one as well, but it’s more for the sun, because it’s made out of paper. I know, when I look at these photos that I had a headache that day and didn’t feel good, but this outfit made me feel awesome.

Being outdoors also helps lift my mood a lot. Vitamin D is essential for everyone, and I try to get my fair share of it every day. I love being at the park with my girlfriend and shooting photos. It’s one of the places I love to be most, and it always has the perfect scenery to capture. When I don’t feel good, I just think about the complex elements of nature and how amazingly beautiful nature is. I realize that it also struggles to survive, and the struggle makes it even more beautiful. That’s what I’d like to think, that this struggle with TMJ will help me become a better person. I definitely think it already has, because I value days I feel good so much more than I used to! I have a patio garden at my house and it has also become a large source of sanctuary for me as well. I love tending to my herbs and vegetables, and they are all so beautiful. Watching them grow is such a joy!

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I’m so excited to share some of my new art pieces and designs with you all. Since my TMJ has been acting up a lot recently, I’m more slow moving than I’d like to be with them, but thats okay. I’m learning to be patient with my work and know that right now I need to focus on my health. This is why I have decided to put my focus with my design work more into one of a kind pieces, gowns, fantasy pieces instead of ready to wear. It allows me the time to focus more on a single piece rather than churning out dress after dress. Having this blog has been such a blessing too, because I can still talk about beautiful pieces like this outfit from Fortunate One rather than only talking about things I make.

For fellow sufferers of TMJ pain and chronic headaches, theres some advice I can give you that seems to work for me. Practice yoga. Yoga is a huge stress reliever and also works to lengthen and strengthen muscles using body resistance rather than say lifting weights. I cannot lift weights when my neck is in pain, so doing yoga keeps me fit and also helps so much to keep my mind relaxed and at ease. Plus, it will make you so happy! My mood is always lifted after I do yoga whether I’m at home doing an amazon prime yoga video or if I’m in class at my favorite yoga studio Okra here in Charlotte. Also, take epsom salt baths, because they help to detox your body. You can also put essential oils in the bath for aromatherapy, which can help headaches a lot. Meditation is also great, or just general relaxation techniques for your mind and body.

My next piece of advice is find a hobby or escape that allows your body to be at ease. Reading has always been one of my favorite things to do, but when I’m not feeling so good, it feels awesome to open a book and escape to another world. I’m starting a section on my blog that will be devoted to book reviews, since I love it so much and do it a lot lately, so look out for that coming up! I also really enjoy playing video games as a nice escape. My computer chair is a very comfortable place for my neck when my TMJ acts up, so lately I’ve been playing online games like World Of Warcraft and Final Fantasy. I’m a big lover of anything fantasy themed, so these games fit me well. I like them also because it isn’t like watching TV where you just sit and enjoy it, you have to use your brain to play the game, which is nice. Board games and card games are also great too! I absolutely love tabletop games. Tending to my patio garden is also a nice escape as well, I love being with all my little plants. Oh, and playing with my dog and spending time with friends and family. My final tip is to try your best to live a healthy lifestyle even when you don’t feel well. I know there are days when I don’t feel like cooking or cleaning or anything, but making myself a healthy meal always makes me feel so much better. Plus I know my body is getting the vitamins and nutrients it needs! I get tons of healthy vegetarian and vegan recipes from Pinterest! I cook a lot of ethnic food like asian soups and Indian food, because they use a lot of herbs and spices which are so beneficial for overall health. Lastly, do things that make you happy! For me, this is stuff like shooting outfit photos, spending time with my friends, my doggie, and everything else I mentioned above. It’s important to keep those positive things in your life even when you feel bad. I know some of you may wonder what the outfit has to do with my TMJ, but when I look at these photos, I know how happy it makes me!

I know this post is long, but I hope it gives you a bit more of a glimpse into my personal life, what I’m going through that isn’t good, because I’m human, just like everyone else. We all have issues going on beneath the surface, but it’s important that even if you have something bad going on, you learn how to still feel like yourself, get up and conquer the day, and feel good! Also I hope for any fellow TMJ sufferers, this gives you some kind of insight into how I’m dealing with my issues. If you have any advice or any comments, please leave them down below!

Outfit Details:

Blouse: Fortunate One $63.00 get it here 

Skirt: Fortunate One $63.00 get it here 

Boots: UrbanOG $66.00 get them here  

With Love,

Aubrey

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